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The online full moon name chart lists several Algonquin names for each full moon. The Almanac has a list of which one it chooses to use in the Almanac. If there are two full moons a month, the Almanac seems to use another; for example Dec 09 had two full moons; the first had the 'official' name of Cold Moon and the second full moon that month had the alternate name of Long Nights Moon.
If there is more than one alternate name, how do you decide which to use?
If there is no alternate name, what do you call it? For example, the Harvest Moon (the only independently calculated moon) does not fall on October, and no alternative name is given for that month, but it appeared in the Almanac as 'Hunters Moon', a name not on the list. Whre did that come from?
It is all rather arbitrary, of course, but a complete guide as to how you use these interesting Indian names would be welcome.
Also, can there ever be two full moons in a Febuary? Even in Leap year?
There are several names for each full Moon, including those used by various Native American tribes as well as colonial Americans. We have a list of names that we traditionally use, plus an alternate or two of our choosing. The alternate may be from our traditional list, or occasionally we use another intriguing name, such as Moose-Calling Moon for September (from the Micmac tribe).
As for October’s full Moon, we traditionally name it the Hunter’s Moon, a name from the Algonquin tribe. Or, October’s full Moon may be the Harvest Moon if it is closer to the autumnal equinox than September’s full Moon. (For 2010, the Harvest Moon occurs in September). We have updated the full Moon names chart online so that includes information about the Hunter’s Moon—thank you for bringing that to our attention!
As for a second full Moon in a month (usually called a blue Moon), there can never be one in February. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days, so even if a full Moon occurred at the start of February 1 of a leap year (29 days), the next full Moon would occur on March 1.
Some unusual full Moon names not on our chart that you might be interested in include:
January: Hoop and Stick Game Moon (Cheyenne)
February: Moon When the Ducks Come Back to Hide (Ponca)
March: Moon When Eyes Are Sore from the Bright Snow (Dakota Sioux)
April: Do Nothing Moon (Illinois)
May: Salmonberry Bird Moon (Haida)
June: Watermelons Moon (Natchez)
July: Moon of the Giant Cactus (Pima)
August: Blueberry Moon (Ojibway)
September: Spider Web on the Ground at Dawn Moon (Oto)
October: Blackberry Moon (Choctaw)
November: All Gathered Moon (San Ildefonso and San Juan)
December: Baby Bear Moon (Osage)
Hope this helps! Thank you for your interest in The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
--The Old Farmer’s Almanac team
I had thought that the 2 names this past December should've been reversed as the Long Nights should've been first since the 2nd full moon was after Solstice, and it gets much Cold heading into January, but that's just me. As you pointed out for the Harvest moon, it's all adjustable as to when the White Lady decides to make her appearance.
Anyway, thank you for the extra information on Native American names!
An editing mistake? :exmark:
Richard Minutillo email@example.com
It is also said that Blue Moon is the name used for the second full moon in any month; the extra moon that is relatively rare... as in "once in a blue moon." New information, however, indicates that this bit of 'old folklore' may go back to an editing mistake. :exmark:
Richard Matthews kindly provided a link to the Sky & Telescope article that started it all. The specific link is no longer vald, nor is the old Sky & Telescope site. Richard explained the more accurate use of the term this way in a very informative e-mail:
Essentially it says to take the 1st, 2nd, and LAST (not 3rd) full moon in each season and give them the names in the table. If there are 4 full moons in the season, the 3rd is the "blue moon".
The table he's talking about would start with the 'first Winter moon', rather than 'January.' But then, which moon really marks the 'first Winter moon?' Would that always match up with some else's 'January' moon? The answer to these questions could lie in the definition of the first spring moon, sometimes called the Easter or Paschal Full Moon. This moon has been defined as the first 14-day-old moon on or after March 21. This moon is not necessarily an astronomical full moon, but is always in April, and Western Easter is set on the Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon. At least that's what I found in the Old Farmer's Almanac Every Day Calendar page for February 17, 1999.
A more detailed explanation of the moons' relation to the changing seasons, the role of the Blue moon, and a nice astronomical chart, could be found in another old Sky & Telescope link provided by Matthews.
He also offered this example of a 'seasonal' list:
winter 1st - Moon after Yule
winter 2nd -Wolf Moon
winter last - Lenten Moon
spring 1st - Egg, Easter, or Paschal Moon
spring 2nd - Milk Moon
spring last - Flower Moon
summer 1st - Hay Moon
summer 2nd - Grain Moon
summer last - Fruit Moon
autumn 1st - Harvest Moon
autumn 2nd - Hunter's Moon
autumn last - Moon before Yule
[Insert Blue moons in any season as required, after the 2d moon and before the last.]
The problem I have with reorganizing my comparative chart this way is that most other lists I've seen are in fact sequenced by month, not by season, and the aforementioned question still holds. Easter may always be in April, but will the Moon After Yule always be in January? Or would that make it Blue? And what about October?
The great irony, of course, is that moon folklore and most moon names undoubtedly predate Christianity itself and the Christianized feasts, festivals or lunations of Easter and Christmas. Pope Gregory's calendric reformations and declarations aside, sequencing moon names according to the date of the eccleastical 'Paschal' moon is just as arbitrary as using Roman months ...
Richard Minutillo also goes on to say: , "or Stonehenge, or Mayan artifacts, or the Old Farmer's Almanac." but it seems to me that cultural calendars matched their own perceptions at the time ... and only time will tell validity, as users of TOFA attest to all the time.
(Richard Minutillo continutes) So I don't know, I just collect lists of the names. Any further list submissions would be amazing. Further contributions to the discussion of which moon is which: Blue, Yule or whatever, will also be received with interest. ~~ Thank you.
Scientific American has weighed in on the subject of Blue Moons. Visit http://www.sciam.com for a brief discussion by George Spagna, chair of the physics department at Randolph-Macon College. (Note: sorry, article no longer available)
Besides the obvious cycle of ovulation, are there any days someone could suggest that would increase a woman's chances of becoming pregnant?
Days her husband's home?
THanks for the moon info; here is a link to a lot of background on Blue Moons.
Whew! The "Husband" answer caught me by surprise, I'm just too serious sometimes ... good one!!!!
Thanx Seeker for the Blue Moon website, and it's true that there are just as many Blue NEW Moons as full moons, but is rarely noticed.
Since new moons are supposed to be good times for starting projects, I tend to make note of them ... sometimes I need all the help I can get! :)
I HEARD of a Blue Moon, when two Full Moons fall in the same month. Is there a "Black Moon"?? I don't know if it is refered as some other name either. What is a "Black Moon" if there is one.